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Apple TV

July 8, 2012

Now that the term has come to an end I am able to reflect more leisurely on our initial experience of using the iPad as a learning tool. The impact on learning has been very impressive. One element of the classroom set up that has caused the greatest transformation is the Apple TV.

The Apple TV allows any iPad2 on the same wifi network to mirror its image on a screen in the classroom. Its a very simple set up which has changed the teacher’s approach to teaching. She is able to move freely around the classroom and be more part of the lesson in amongst the pupils. The initial teaching input us shorter and far greater modelling using pupil work is facilitated. The children are always keen to share their work throughout lessons and manage the AppleTV mirroring with ease. Genuine peer assessment and purposeful discussion is enabled and encouraged. Pupils remain focused on their learning and the task in hand. They confidently discuss their work and their ability to reflect on their own learning has developed. The teacher has commented on how assessment is continuous throughout each lesson through the sharing of pupil work over the AppleTV and is it therefor far more effective.

The Apple TV is a very cost effective solution. We paired ours up with an LCD TV screen but in other rooms where we already have VGA projectors we can purchase reasonably priced adapters that allow the AppleTV to connect to these units. It is particularly effective when used in the 1:1 environment but it will also work extremely well in other situations. Whether with the teacher using an iPad for direct teaching or in a 1:many model where children are sharing devices.

I am looking forward to extending the use of the AppleTV across more classes in our school.

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The Eurogavins – The Songs

June 6, 2012

The five countries Greece, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain have  completed their songs for our Eurovision Song Contest, The Eurogavins, next Wednesday.  The children inPrimary 6/5 have composed their own music, written their own lyrics and recorded their finished songs all using their iPads.

Please have a listen and vote for your favourites. Voting will take the usual Eurovision format

1st  12 points

2nd  10 points

3rd  8 points

4th  7 points

5th  6 points

Votes can be placed by adding a comment to this blog post.

The children are very excited and hope that many of you will join in the fun.

Here are our entries

Eurovision Project – The Eurogavins

May 18, 2012

Our iPad pilot class are holding their own Eurovision Song Contest the Eurogavins next month.  It will be a perfect showcase for much of the fantastic work they have been doing.  I popped into the class today to hear their backing tracks for their songs.  We have groups representing Germany, greece, Italy, Sweden and Spain.  I was was so impressed wit  what I hear I had to share.  The children used Garageband on the iPad.  I was really impressed how they used existing loops with ones they created themselves while trying to reflect something of the country they are representing.  Vocals track will be added next week when we will open the voting. I hope you enjoy listening.

Please feel see to leave comment which I will share with the children.

Eurovision Sweden

Eurovision Spain

Eurovision Italy

Eurovision Greece 

Eurovision Germany

First 6 Weeks

May 17, 2012

General Observations
We are now 6 pupil weeks into the iPad pilot and the children are using and managing the devices with great ease. The learning environment within the classroom is very calm and the pupils are displaying as increased level of engagement in their learning activities. Discussion and dialogue among pupils is purposeful. Productivity is higher and tasks both on and off the iPad are normally completed within timescales. Children are keen to share their work on the screen using the Apple TV. This modelling of work is proving vey useful in ensuring all pupils are on track and completing tasks appropriately. General behaviour in the class has improved. One particular child who’s behaviour had been causing considerable concern prior to the pilot, is much more settled both in the classroom and out in the playground. While it is difficult to attribute this directly to the iPad the timescale would suggest some relationship to using the device

Writing
Writing has been a major focus of the pilot so far with the children writing iBooks, creating film trailers, comic strips, keynotes and Mind maps. The quality of the work produced on the iPad is of a high standard. Paper based writing is also improved with a recent baseline piece of writing showing a significant improvement with pieces of writing showing a 2 or 3 level increase.
Children readily engage others in discussion about their work and are keen to demonstrate their learning or support each other. The use of the devices has complimented the cooperative learning structure already well established within the classroom. If children are out of their seat they almost always have a specific purpose.
Pupils have commented that they are now less bored at school and have indicated a desire to stay in the classroom to complete tasks over break times and at the end of the day.

Technical Issues
So far we have encountered very few technical issues. The wifi is working well. There is as slight issue with DCHP settings and the network which is being looked into at the moment. There are still some issues surrounding deploying apps and updating devices. This will be made easier by access to iTunes store for the master account. iPads are charged regularly and stored in a secure cupboard within the classroom. The children are now ready to take responsibility for syncing and backing up their iPad once a week with the MacBook in the classroom. For this we are using a 7 port hub which will allow groups of children to sync at the same time.

Nest Steps
We are now looking at a good way to manage workflow to allow the children to share their work with their teacher for marking and feedback. Without email or Dropbox this is still quite difficult.
A move to allowing the children to take the devices home would be the next natural step. This would allow a seamless transition between learning in school and learning at home. There will be some issues to be discussed before this can happen.

Apps

Apps we are finding useful in the classroom at the moment

Pages A good word processing/desktop publishing. Children find it very easy to use.

Keynote Presentation software which the children find easy to use to produce attractive presentations.

Garageband Music creation app. Very intuitive app allowing children to create their own digital music pieces

iMovies Easy to use movie editing app with excellent trailer maker feature

Idea Sketch Free mind mapping app. Good for organising ideas.

My Spelling Test An app which allows the children to submit their weekly spelling words and gives them daily activities based on their own set of words

Squeebles A game based app which helps with basic arithmetic

Art Rage A very good app fro teaching and supporting art skills

Book Creator An easy to use app which uses Pages templates and allows children to easily publish their own iBook

Comic Life An app version of this popular software. Works very well with built in camera

Google Earth An app version of Google Earth

iPad 1:1 Starting Out – Storage and Charging

May 1, 2012

One of the first practical issues I had to address was how to store our iPds in the classroom. We needed a secure, easy to access and affordable solution. There are many carts for charging and syncing iPads available on the market but most are very expensive. I was more concerned with the security and charging aspect than syncing. We have decided to sync using a seven port hub and the children will take responsibility for this on assembly rota. Due to current network issues we can’t download apps at school.
I was looking around for a cheap solution when the Ikea PS cabinet was suggested by a fellow ADE. A lockable, metal cabinet costing only £69.99 seemed a good starting point. Our next issues was how to store the devices neatly in the cabinet. We looked at different letter racks, dish racks and finally settled on an expandable shelf divider from Ramquist. This has carry handles which helps with taking the iPads to take home for updating etc. With the addition of a few surge protected, fused bar pugs and our cabinet was complete. The whole thing coming in comfortably under £100.

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The bands come out of the box

March 20, 2011

Each year we have taught the band in a Box topic we have discovered that opportunities for learning present themselves during the project.  The first year it was the addition of  the French radio broadcast and The Gavins  that were added to the initial plan.  The second year a dance programme and drug/alcohol awareness strand were added and this year an amazing live concert.

The project name “A Band in a Box” reflects the idea that the bands exist within each group’s Macbook, but this year with the addition of a vocal track it became obvious that the children could take their bands out the box.  As part of our Comic Relief fundraising events the children planned a live concert.  Each band produced its own merchandise to sell, t-shirts, CDs, badges, poster etc.  These items were then sold to the other children in the school on the morning of the concert which certainly helped build the excitement across the  whole school.  The children attending the concert  gave donations as they entered the hall.  It was wonderful to see these imaginary bands come to life in costumes, with stage personas and live singing.  The atmosphere in the school was electric.  The most striking thing for me however  was how each band sang along and supported the other nine, showing a real sense of community.  There was no competition just a feeling of mutual support and fun.  It was a wonderful and noisy afternnon and to cap it all they raised £295 for Red Nose Day.

Our planning model in the school is made up of broad brushstroke plans showing the main outcomes combined with detailed short trem plans (weekly/fortnightly).  This type of apporoach has enabled us to take on new opportunities for learning experiences as they present themselves and so respond to the needs of the learners.  Without this flexibility in our planning this amazing experience may not have taken place and the learning would have that much poorer for it.

Band in a Box

March 6, 2011

Band in a Box (Guitar Hero) has been a very successful GBL project for our Primary 7 classes over the last 2 school years and has brought a lot of positive attention to the school It was therefore with a little trepidation that we launched the project for the third time earlier this year.

The project involves the children working in groups of four forming their own imaginary rock bands. These working groups are carefully chosen to reflect different ability levels and learning styles. The children each create their own altar rock ego and back story , these characters then form a band with its created history. The bands then produce their first single and video with accompanying press releases and reviews etc. The children then take their band on a virtual tour to a French city dealing with budget, travel itinerary etc. While on tour the bands record a radio interview in French and a thank you speech for an award ceremony that they cant attend. The project finishes with a flourish in the form of a Red Carpet/Black Tie event where the children present their learning to their parents in the form of a glitzy award ceremony.

In previous years we have used Garageband and a simple song structure to link loops to create something that loosely resembles a piece of music. This year however the teachers were keen to have the children compose songs with chorus and 2 verses. An ambitious step forward but one which has had an amazing impact. The children spent two days writing their lyrics and composing and recorded their music again using Garageband. A challenging and demanding process for 11 year old children. Creative differences can be difficult for any group to deal with let alone a newly formed band of children. The results however have been amazing and the impact on the children remarkable. It seems that the very process of writing, recording and producing their songs has brought a unity and oneness to each group and new friendships and alliances forged in a very short space of time. The quality of the songs produced has also been remarkable. I would not have thought that it would be possible for children of this age with no particular music training to create music of such a high calibre. The videos the children have produced to promote their songs is also of a very high quality , much more sophisticated than in the previous two years.

Here are links to four of this year’s finished songs, I hope you enjoy them as much as the children enjoyed creating them.

http://bit.ly/hliP77

http://bit.ly/eQauy4

http://bit.ly/hpQyZF

http://bit.ly/i5yyPT

I have been giving a great deal of thought as to how this remarkable improvement has come about. I can only conclude that as these children have come through the school they have expected the opportunity to form their band and create their music and video. Each year we play the finished video to the whole school and in doing so I believe the children have seen what has been achieved before and have set themselves the goal of dong it better. We as teachers have become more ambitious with the topic adding new twists and turns and we are probably more confident in our teaching. I believe however that the children’s own expectation is key, they come into the project believing they will do it better.
I can’t wait to see how the rest of this project continues. This week they are heading off on their virtual tours with a few new elements and problems to solve.  Hopefully I’ll find the time to update  my blog with their tales